A Pennsylvania church is holding a blessing ceremony for AR-15 assault rifles not far from a local elementary school.
The blessing will take place at the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland next Wednesday morning, and around 600 people are expected to attend.
The church is known for its pro-gun stance, and for their support of the AR-15 in particular, believes that the rifle is the Biblical “rod of iron.”
The church members have been instructed to bring their rifles or proof that they will be purchasing their rifles to the ceremony, according to Newsweek.
“If unable to purchase and legally transport such a ‘rod of iron’ because of laws barring the purchase of weapons, or other reasons, couples are invited to purchase a $700 gift card from a gun store, as such evidence of their intent to purchase a ‘rod of iron’ in the future,” their website said.
Tim Elder, the Unification Sanctuary’s director of world missions, confirmed that the church members believe AR-15s are mentioned in the Book of Revelations in the Bible. He said that the church was taking steps to check the weapons at the door and would unload and tie the weapons with zip ties.
But Elder said that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last week had not dampened their belief that the AR-15s were the “rod of iron.” In fact, the shooting only reaffirmed their beliefs.
“Now more than ever, good people need to stand up and claim for themselves the tools that can be used to stop that kind of evil,” he said.
But not everyone in the community is thrilled with the event, especially since Wallenpaupack South Elementary School just down the road from the church.
“I wish they didn’t have it at all,” parent Kendra Hanor told WNEP-TV. “I don’t think there is a good time to have it, especially this close.”
As the nation is still reeling from the tragedy in Florida, and as teenagers around the country protest for gun reform, the AR-15 blessing doesn’t seem like a good idea.